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By | June 14, 2023

SustainabilityCon 2023 Recap: LF Research and the LF Sustainability Initiative

The SustainabilityCon North America conference session “LF Research and the LF Sustainability Initiative: Measuring How LF Projects are Advancing a More Sustainable Future” featured Hillary Carter and Anna Hermanson from the Linux Foundation discussing their new research initiatives focused on sustainability (video below). The session highlighted the mission of LF Research, which aims to investigate open source project communities and their contributions to solving global challenges.

LF Research employs empirical research methodologies such as surveys, qualitative interviews, and data analysis to gain insights and inform open source communities. They have published 31 reports to date, including reports, infographics, blogs, and webinar sessions. The data sets used in their research are also made available for public use on, aligning with the Linux Foundation’s commitment to open data.

The research conducted by LF focuses on various frameworks, including technology horizontals, industry verticals, ecosystem-level analysis, and recently, a geographic framework. In the session, they introduced LF Sustainability, an initiative aimed at identifying Linux Foundation projects that align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). now provides a dedicated space to learn about the UN SDGs and how their projects contribute to them.

The session highlighted the significance of open source projects in achieving the SDGs. The Linux Foundation’s projects, like LF Energy, OS Climate, and the Green Software Foundation, were born with sustainability as a core focus. Additionally, other projects like the Hyperledger Foundation contribute to sustainability goals by providing powerful use cases for solving sustainability challenges.

The UN Global Compact has recognized the relationship between open source software and achieving the SDGs, estimating that it can generate a significant annual revenue of $2.1 trillion in the tech sector alone. This finding highlights the potential of open source software in driving sustainable development across various industries.

To present their findings, LF Research categorized projects into SDG9, Industry Innovation and Infrastructure, as all their technical projects advance this goal. However, they also identified projects that contribute to other SDGs and highlighted their contributions. The presentation provided examples of projects advancing each SDG, such as Trust Over IP, Call for Code for Racial Justice, and Fair Change for SDG1 (No Poverty).

LF Research revealed a considerable strength in reducing inequalities, decent work and economic growth, quality education, responsible production and consumption, and clean water and sanitation. However, there is room for improvement in areas like clean water and sanitation, life below water, and life on land.

Lastly, the session discussed partnerships and umbrella projects within the Linux Foundation, such as CNCF and Hyperledger, which serve as partners in advancing the SDGs. These umbrella projects provide support, organization, and funding for various initiatives, helping streamline efforts and reduce waste.

In conclusion, the SustainabilityCon North America conference session highlighted the Linux Foundation’s commitment to sustainability and the role of open source projects in achieving the UN SDGs. LF’s initiatives and findings demonstrate the potential of open source software to drive economic progress while addressing critical issues like poverty, inequality, and environmental sustainability. By leveraging open data and collaborative efforts, LF Research aims to empower organizations and individuals to contribute to a more sustainable future.